Dr. Frankie, My Girlfriend is Pulling Away
Dr. Frankie Bashan
Photo: Cheryl Mazak
Dear Dr. Frankie,
In November, 2010 I met a woman who I began dating and spending a lot of time with. We talked about moving in together after dating about a year. Suddenly in February she stopped calling me and wouldn't answer or return my calls. After a week of this she finally told me she should never have started a relationship because she wasn't ready. Her partner of 8 years had died about a year ago. So we decided to stay in touch and be friends, but I was so in love with her it was impossible for me. We didn’t talk for two months, then out of the blue she texted me because she was moving. From that day forward we talked everyday, I told her how I felt about her but all she would say is that she cares about me and that we should take things slow and just see how it goes. The first time we dated I pretty much lost touch with my friends and family. This time I decided not to do that, and things are going well so I am proud of that.
I have told her that I love her and she said, “I know.” Once she almost slipped and told me she loved me but caught herself. We joked about it but I did tell her that I knew she was afraid of having someone in her life that really loved her and cared about her.
We cuddle when we watch TV, we hug and kiss hello and good-bye and we kiss when we spend time together. There is no sex or caressing of any kind. I am afraid to really express how I feel because I am afraid she is going to stop talking to me again because I pushed too far. I want more and I am not sure if I should expect anything more from this relationship. Am I doing the right thing in just hanging back and hoping she will make a move toward a more emotionally intimate relationship? —Unrequited
It seems that although you haven’t directly addressed the sex topic, your feelings and desire for a more intimate relationship have been made clear. The woman you are dating has also made it clear that she isn’t open for anything more than what you currently have. Trust your instinct that by pushing the topic you might push her away.
I noticed several red flags that might have contributed to where you currently find yourself. You mentioned that after only several months you discussed moving in together after you dated for one year. Regardless of whose idea this was, I think you were both moving way too fast. It may have actually done the opposite of what you were hoping for by contributing to her February disappearance. I am glad to hear that this time around you focused on maintaining healthy relationships with your friends and family. Balance is one of the most important ingredients of a maintaining a healthy, happy relationship. Avoid “enmeshment,” this is when two people become so entwined that they no longer act as individuals. Examples of these are having all the same friends, same interests, same hobbies, and no identity independent of each other.
At this point you need to ask yourself if settling for crumbs will sustain you for the long haul. If you have the stomach for it and are willing to face possible rejection, I suggest making one last effort. Communicate your feelings and needs clearly. If you feel resistance and/or she disappears again, that is a clear sign that it’s time to move on. You deserve to be with someone who is capable of accepting all you have to offer and will reciprocate the effort.
Dear Dr. Frankie,
Is love at first sight possible? I feel like that has happened to me recently, so far everything is going well with the woman I'm dating. We felt the same way the moment we saw one another. However, none of my friends believe me and one friend in particular calls it "lust at first sight." Do you think it's real, if it's not--what is it? —Slightly Confused
Dear Slightly Confused,
I’m a realist with a healthy dose of optimism so with slight skepticism I will say that nothing is outside the realm of possibility. What you experience as love at first sight your friend might experience as lust at first sight. Where we should probably start is by asking ourselves what is love, or perhaps what isn’t love? Is love a fluttering of your stomach so intense it seems as though you no longer need food as sustenance? Is love the inability to sleep because your mind is consumed with thoughts of her? Is love the desire to spend every waking moment in each other’s presence? Or does love run deeper? Is it an emotion or better yet, a force that unites two people on spiritual, emotional and physical levels? And if you believe love is the latter, then is it possible to achieve that at first sight?
In most cases I believe the immediate, intense connection you are experiencing is rooted in chemistry and psychological projection. Brain chemistry is such a complex and intriguing field of study we are only now beginning to understand how it works. The fluttering of the stomach, rise in body temperature, and sleepless nights are products of an intense chemical reaction in the brain. What happens next over the course of the minutes, days, and weeks is that you both subconsciously project your fantasies onto each other. Projection is the phenomenon of seeing what you want to see in someone. You already share an intense physical attraction to each other and your mind begins laying the foundation for something deeper. This is the phase commonly known as the “Honeymoon Phase.”
The Honeymoon Phase is exhilarating and you are completely enamored of each other. Eventually this phase of the relationship will give way into a more realistic, sustainable phase. Your sweetie’s idiosyncrasies won’t be quite so charming and you both let go of your best-behavior routines. This is where you will start to see if you have a relationship that will stand the test of time. If the butterflies and weak knees give way to a deeper understanding and meaningful love for each other then you’ve got a shot at the big leagues. Enjoy every moment and best of luck to you!
Dear Dr. Frankie,
What is the healthiest way to end a relationship for both the "dumper" and the "dumpee"? Should you break up over text, phone or in person? What should you say? Should you cut off all contact cold turkey? Should you de-friend each other on FB? How much communication should you have after the break-up? How much "de-briefing" and discussion is necessary post-breakup? Should you be friends? If so, what are good reasons to want to be friends? There are a lot of things you may want to tell the other person. Is this counter-productive? —Heartbreaker
The answer to this great and relevant question is completely dependent upon the people involved and the type of relationship shared. For example, if you’re asking how to handle a breakup of a once healthy relationship where both parties still have a mutual respect for each other; my answer would be drastically different from how to dump an abuser.
The one thing I will say is this. Do not, I repeat DO NOT break up with anyone via text message. I mean seriously, this is a douche move. And you don’t want to be remembered by her and her friends as the douche who dumped her on a text message right? At least give her and yourself that much respect regardless of how crappy the relationship. Ideally a breakup should be in person. I realize this is not always feasible but please do try your best to handle the breakup with as much grace and respect as possible. This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings, “Karma’s only a bitch if you are.”
If the relationship was peppered with dysfunction, then ongoing communication and appropriate debriefing would depend upon what the issues were. Were there codependency or boundary issues? If so, then perhaps staying in touch is not an appropriate solution. Or perhaps not until one or both people have sought some sort of coaching or therapy.
If the relationship was emotionally or physically abusive then perhaps a cold-turkey dumping is in order. Lesbians just love to stay friends after breakup. I have heard several women say they have the “maturity” to stay friends with their exes. I would not say that maintaining a friendship necessarily means you are more mature, especially if the relationship was unhealthy.
This is what makes your question, “why stay friends,” so important. Do some introspection and try to discover what your motivation is for wanting to stay friends. Do you want to stay connected because you still love and respect her and she has been an important person in your life? Do you own property or share custody of pets and/or children and are forced to maintain a civilized connection? If there were codependency issues ask yourself if you feel responsible for the failure of the relationship. Just because you may have been romantically involved with someone does not mean that you need to remain friends.
Single? Looking for your soul mate? Dr. Frankie invites you to share her Love Seat. Post your questions to lesbian matchmaker Dr. Frankie Bashan below or email her directly at littlegaybook.com and check back on here at Curvemag.com for her answers. If you choose to email her directly please be sure to indicate “Curve” in the subject line.
To learn more about Dr. Frankie's matchmaking and dating/relationship coaching services please visit her website at littlegaybook.com.